I'm cheating. I posted this last year, but I've been super busy and it still applies. Plus, just like me, some of you are currently riding the roller coaster of writer self-doubt. This might help. (Or at least inspire you to dance.)
THE HOKEY: aka Why I AM Cut Out To Be A Writer:
I had one heck of an imagination as a kid. Back then, my parents called it lying, and punished me for it…a lot. However, if I just put a disclaimer that “this is fiction” before my tall tales, it becomes a story instead of a lie. And nobody punishes me (except myself when I think it’s not good).
MY PEOPLE WATCHING SKILLS
…are Olympic league status. If they’d make people watching an Olympic sport, I’d win a gold medal. Because of my PW skills, I notice stuff. Then I make that stuff part of my characters' personalities. I create stories from the stupid, quirky, and fascinating things people do.
…ain’t that bad. I’m no English professor, but I’m pretty sure I grasp the general concept and rules behind sentence structure. I could definitely improve my skills. There is always room for improvement. Or at least that’s what the cliché Gods tell me.
MY COMMON SENSE
I could never be one of those aspiring authors that gets a rejection letter and writes the agent back telling them they’re missing out on the next Harry Potter. I would never be so stubborn as to think my MS is perfect and not take suggestions or critique on how to make it stronger. What’s that cliché Gods? Oh yes, it is worth repeating; there is always room for improvement. Which brings me to…
I know I’m no Stephen King. I know I haven’t written the next Twilight. I know that even if my book ever does get published, some people will hate it. BUT, some people might love it. And through all the hokey and pokey, that’s what it’s all about.
Now with all that being said,
THE POKEY: aka Why I AM NOT Cut Out To Be A Writer.
Do I really have anything to say that hasn’t been said 100 times before in every way possible? My imagination is good, but can it compete with the other millions of writers out there?
MY PEOPLE WATCHING SKILLS
I hear and read the stories and struggles of all the writers around me. I've met people at conferences who have been writing for decades without ever being published. I’ve heard the horror stories. I’ve read the statistics. I’ve seen with my own eyes that it’s next to impossible.
…ain’t that good. My writing is nowhere near perfect. A friend told me “It doesn’t have to be perfect. That’s what editors are for!” But she’s wrong. The writing has to be phenomenal--especially in this market. Use too many adverbs, say “was” too much, misuse commas and colons and you’ve signed your own form rejection letter. Fact is, there’s just too much talent out there, and many aspiring writer’s DO have perfect manuscripts.
MY COMMON SENSE
Fewer deals are being made. Agents are taking on fewer clients. Due to the recession more people than ever are trying to write a book and get it published. The odds of getting an agent are slim. The odds of getting published? I might as well take up a career in getting struck by lightening. I know my odds. They are against me.
There’s always been that voice inside of me that doubts myself. Me? Become a best selling author? Have a following of fans that wait on the edge of their seats for my next book to come out? Readers will line up to ask for my autograph? Yeah, right.
So, which is it? Hokey or Pokey?
Am I a writer or aren’t I?
Truth is; it’s not a question. It’s not a decision I made. It just sort of happened. I don’t have a say in the matter. My stories have been written. Another new one is churning through my mind, fighting to become black words on my white computer screen. So I have to keep writing. If for no one else, then for my characters. I can’t just leave their lives unfinished in a make believe world I created. How cruel would that be?
Some days there will be rejections, tears, and harsh criticism. Other days there will be a critique partner who says “This is a perfectly perfect paragraph,” or another reader tells me they loved Nathan more than Edward (True! I swear!) Those are the days that keep me writing. The moments when I stare at my crazy fantastical stories and smile.
Maybe my stories won’t ever get published, but maybe they will. Cliché Gods assure me that “Only time will tell.” Until then--however far THEN may be--I'll keep trying to be a better writer (self-doubts and all). Because what if, one day, an agent does love my story? And then a publisher loves my story. Maybe one day all of this work will result in a letter from a fan that says, “Thank you for writing this.”
THEN, all of this hokey pokey will turn itself around.
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